This past offseason for the Green Bay Packers has been taking all sorts of turns away from being normal, and with the Aaron Rodgers situation developing seemingly on a daily basis, there does not seem to be a return to normal for a long time. But Green Bay’s 2021 NFL Draft class has already begun to showcase their skills in front of the coaching staff, helping them get a head start on acclimation.
Certain members of Green Bay’s class stand to gain more in their first year in the league, as they have better chances at earning valuable playing time right out of the gate – see which three players look to have a say in how this team performs this season.
While playing the position of a defensive tackle in the NFL is one of the most underappreciated roles, Florida rookie T.J. Slaton could become a key cog for Green Bay, simply because of one reason – his ability to free up Kenny Clark.
Constantly having to work through double-teams has made Clark’s job harder as he has ascended towards the top of the DT positional rankings in the NFL, but he has shown his All-Pro level skills to not know any bounds. However, understanding that making Clark more efficient helps make this entire defense better, which is exactly the role that Slaton will be able to help fill.
An absolute mountain of a man (6’4, 330 lbs.), Slaton did not put up those stat-filling numbers on a weekly basis, yet he ate up blocks at the point of attack to help free up others around him on the DL, something he will be asked to do again. The DT depth alongside Clark is not great, so if Slaton is able to solidify himself right out of the gate, this fifth-rounder may be a steal in a few years.
While center Josh Myers looks to be the likely in-house choice to supplant the departed Corey Linsley at center, Amari Rodgers is most deserving of the lone offensive player on this list. His ability to help out both on offense and special teams makes his impact much more valuable, and his skill set fits perfectly into what Matt LaFleur would be asking of the Clemson rookie.
While Amari Rodgers may not be catching balls from Aaron Rodgers (the jury is obviously still out), Amari Rodgers has the intangibles to slide in as this team’s starting slot WR on Day 1, as well as filling the Tyler Ervin role. His breakaway speed, combined with his sticky hands and elusiveness, will make an already stout Green Bay offense even better.
But the biggest area that he can help out in is special teams, where an injection into the putrid return game would do wonders. While having him return both punts and kicks is certainly not out of the question, Amari Rodgers as the team’s kick returner would be quite the first step to getting that unit to actually carry its weight.
The easy choice for biggest potential impact, CB Eric Stokes comes in as a first-round selection that not everyone saw as first-round talent. With blazing speed and great coverage metrics at Georgia, Stokes will be thrown right into the mix out of the gate.
When Kevin King was brought back this offseason, the thought was that he was brought back more as a depth piece that would have to fight for the CB2 role alongside Jaire Alexander – with Stokes now in the fold, King has nothing guaranteed for his role in ‘21, something that should make Stokes work extremely hard to accomplish.
Provided Stokes can cut down on his occasional grab-happy ways (sounds familiar), then he certainly can show the coaching staff from the get-go why he should be this team’s second starting CB on the opposite side of Alexander. Needing to finally establish and entrench an option on the other side fora few years, Stokes has the inside track to doing that, and early returns show that he is more than able to.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23